Preschool Fall Craft Ideas for Toddlers and Children

A great big thank you to Melissa from Never a Dull Moment for guest blogging today and coming up with some easy and stress free preschooler fall craft ideas that you can do with your children at home!

I love fall, it is honestly my favorite season and who can resist the beautiful changing leaves? Lexie is loving the change of the seasons too; and now with the growing curiosity that comes with being a 3 year old I never know what is coming in the house.

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why not use the pine cones as a pretty center piece? Her current favorite is pine cones and apples, which made picking a few fall crafts to start off the season with quite easy. We washed some dirt off a few of the apples, I cut them in half, and we did apple stamps. I'll be honest, for as much as she loves to paint I expected this to be a much bigger hit then it was!
  apple

 I love the hand print, foot print, (and ever finger printing) paintings; and Lexie's so used to them she knows when we do one we have to do one for each set of Grandparents. Though I must say the attention span of Lexie did not last this activity.
  hand
 I looked at some interesting leaf painting ideas and thought why not let her just paint on the leafs? She thought this was awesome! But as dead leaves do they died, and didn't last long. PicMonkey Collage  

 There are a few more we will definitely be making, such as the handshaped wreath and the leaf candle holder! Looking for more toddler friendly fall crafts?

Be sure to check out Terrell Family Fun
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 and the Momma Diaries.
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Progress Reports from The Little Gym

One of the new elements at The Little Gym that we absolutely love are the progress reports that are sent via email to you at the end of every learning unit.

For the past four weeks, Owen has been working on soccer skills and rules, using his listening ears and following the teacher.

This is what came through my email today, that made me smile and oh so proud of our Bear.



Pretty awesome! He's really getting the hang of working together, playing well with others and growing his confidence with every sport they take on.

Now we are onto golf, and let's just say that he's a fan


I love the teachers that he has. Ms. Erin has taken extra time with Owen to help him figure out his grip and is helping him embrace his left handedness.


I have about 10 passes left for London and area parents, so if you see us out and about...snag one before they are gone so you can experience just how awesome The Little Gym is!

Disclaimer: I am a Mombassador for The Little Gym in London, Ontario. We receive a discounted tuition for Owen's classes, however all the views and opinions expressed at 100% my own.


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Who's The Mombassador??

Introducing a new Sunday series here at Sweet Stella's, all about teaching healthy habits and getting your kids active at The Little Gym!


For fall semester, I was selected as a Mombassador by The Little Gym London, so I will be chronicling Owen's progress in the Mini Jacks sports program and talking about how much we love TLG.

We have been members since Owen was a year and a half, and we have loved watching him grow both in social development and confidence, as well as his physical skills. He loves the teachers and has gained alot of independence in being in the programs.


If you see my out and about in #ldnont, flag me down! I have some free passes to hand out so you can experience for yourselves just how awesome The Little Gym is!

Happy Handstands!
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Back to School Printables - Just Because

Positive reinforcement does wonders for the fragile self esteem of a child. As a child, I was teased about my weight, short hair, glasses....you name it, I was called it. What my dad did to make me feel awesome was leave me little drawings and notes at the kitchen table (he was a shift worker). It made me feel like a million bucks, and the thought of his notes still makes me smile.


Download these positive reinforcement notes for free HERE!

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How To Make an Art Center for Children


This week in New Year New Home we focus on making your children an art center, while sticking to a budget.

We all know that with toddlers come a never ending amount of art supplies...construction paper, crayons, color wonder crayons, chalk, modelling clay...usually it all gets tossed in a basket and set out of reach of toddler hands, so as to avoid the inevitable mess they will make.

What kind of creative process is that?

I'm so excited to have given our son his own little creative corner. What used to be some pretty drab shelves and baskets for his toys...


Pretty boring, not a whole lot going on there since we rooted through all of the toys and got rid of anything that he really wasn't playing with.

But now? Oh it's a haven for reading and creativity!




My little guy has his own easel, from Ikea, with all of his supplies, colouring books and work books right at his level so he can foster his creativity and run wild with imagination.

The best part? By using the things that we already had on hand like baskets and supplies, the only thing new for this area was the easel. And it...it was $20!

Stay tuned to New Year New Home as we talk toy storage and labelling with Lovable Labels in two weeks!

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How To Make Dreams Come True

Have you ever wondered how to make dreams come true, for kids? Well, with that's kind of the job of the Sunshine Foundation for Kids, an amazing charity dedicated to helping special needs children.

For the past few years, my wonderful husband has been the Chair for the Sunshine Foundation for Kids golf tournament in London, Ontario. He spends months with his committee preparing sponsors, organizing fun value added events to the different holes {including a mobile bake shop last year!} all because they believe that every child should have a dream come true.

There's so much that you can do to help make dreams come true for these children. You can volunteer, donate, and spread the sunshine through your social media channels to heighten awareness for the campaign.



Do you know a child whose dream you would love to see come true? Refer them to Sunshine, and feel good about putting a smile on their face.

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BlogHer Sponsor Love: Atutudes


Have a little girl? Does she love to play dress up, or maybe have a special birthday party coming up? Well you can thank your lucky stars for coming across the blog today!

Kristal Lee of Atutudes Handmade Tutu's creates simply the most gorgeous and well made tutu's around. One of her personal favourites is the Pink Poodle Skirt tutu!


Layers and layers of bubblegum pink tulle, embellished with the cutest white poodle around! Your little one will be sock-hoppin' in no time!

This tutu was actually featured in the 2012 Golden Globes Press Bags! Pretty amazing stuff that celebrity publications have taken these gorgeous one-of-a-kind designs home, and now you can too!

Kristal loves to create whimsical tutu designs....and she's even branching out to create adult tutu's! I'm so excited to have one being created for me to wear at Sparklecorn and can't wait to reveal it to you guys next month!

Mama Moments: Be Good...to Yourself

A new series...who knows how often, but I'm shooting for the second Monday of the month. A monthly series...Mama Moments

A chance for you to get to know me as a mom.

I recently went out for my monthly MNO (Mama's Night Out) with two girlfriends who have 6 month olds.

First and foremost, if you don't do an MNO but have mom friends...do it! it's such a refreshing little break, if only for a drink, dessert or {who am I kidding} a full meal that I can eat from start to finish...with it still being hot!

Anywho...I went out for our MNO, and we talked about some nitty-gritty stuff. Post-Partum Depression was a theme, as was me-time, diaper changes, solid feeding, transition to bottles and pretty much every other topic three first time mom's can chat about in 3 hours.

I was thinking about this post the entire way home and wanted to get up on the roof and scream

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, MAMA!

We sacrifice so much of ourselves as mom's, that really...what is left for us at the end of the day? Who is there to take care of us? When do we ever give ourselves a break?

WAHM's - tap a nap, and don't feel guilty about it

SAHM's - flick on a movie and snuggle up on the couch with your little one

Downtime is so incredibly important and I'm finding that more and more mom's don't take it. I know I'm totally guilty on not taking it until I'm at my breaking point and in tears, needing a break.

But, what good are we unless we are good to ourselves first, and others second? Who are we able to love, unless we love ourselves? How can we give others compassion and our attention unless we first give it to ourselves?

I've been thinking long and hard since April 5th about this new mantra, and it has completely resonated with me.

Be Good...to Yourself.

So you go on with your bad self! Have an ice cream date with a group of mama friends and talk tirelessly about sleep deprivation, being WAHM's, having kiddos in daycare, solid feeding, being a SAHM, being a working-mom.

Go bowling, to the movies, to the spa {ahhhh....}.

Be you.

And be good to you!

Talk-To-Me Tuesday: Minnie Mouse Party

Another party that I've had the pleasure working on this year is a Minnie Mouse themed party.


Super cute banner for Miss N. I especially love the orange polka dot ribbon!



Handcut Minnie garlands!


Now, obviously it's super fun for me to make all of the decorations....but what is even more fun is to talk to the Mama's during their party planning process and talk about all of the other elements going on with the party.

Set up
Activities
Food
Loot Bags

It all plays a part in making your party perfect.

In this case, I talked to Miss N's sweet Mama about the food. what goes with Minnie Mouse?

BOWS!

BOW-tie pasta
Polka Dot salad (everything cut in circles)
Pink Lemonade

Cute, right? I absolutely cannot wait to see how the party comes together!

Talk To Me Tuesday: Cupcakes and Sprinkles

I am so excited!

About a month ago, I finished up two banners and tonnes of hanging garlands for parties being held for the cute girlies of


C ha her party on March 3rd and I'm super excited to share with you the cute things I created for her Bakeshop themed party!


Rainbow banner with bright purple ribbon


Hand cut cupcakes on hanging garlands


This paper was absolutely PERFECT for C's party!

I cannot wait to share the links with you to Ms. C's party! Such an inspired theme, but something so incredibly delicious, yet simple.

A cupcake
A few sprinkles
One very lucky little girl!

Mompreneur Monday: The HopeFULL Company

I am absolutely thrilled about our Mompreneur team today!! They are a dynamic duo of moms, who are bringing a message of hope...and full bellies...into the world!

Meet Jessica and Stephanie, sisters and owners of the HopeFULL Company. They have created the cutest ways to help kids eat more whole foods with the idea of eat happily ever after.

What do you do?

We are both mothers to two young children and we're on a mission to help kids eat more whole foods!
Lately we've been busy launching our newest product, The BellyFULL Kit, which helps parents make nutritious and delicious frozen whole food pops at home with their kids.


How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

Get up before the kids do! It's not always easy getting up early, but those extra couple of hours before the kids get up really helps us get ahead.

What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

Finding balance is always a challenge. We love our work, so sometimes it's hard to turn off the computer or take a day off! We make a point to schedule time for ourselves, and we make quality time with our families a priority - time where we are present and enjoying the moment.

What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

Be patient - it doesn't happen over night! We've also learned that just like parenthood, it takes a village. There are many wonderful resources out there for women entrepreneurs. Legal Corps, Women Venture, SCORE to name a few. Reach out, network and make connections. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the ride!


Is there anything additional that you'd like to share?

We'd love to offer a BellyFULL Kit giveaway to one random new "liker" on our Facebook Page! Just head to https://www.facebook.com/thehopefullcompany, "like us" and post "Sweet Stella's sent me!" to qualify!

Talk-To-Me Tuesday: Unda The Sea...

Unda the sea...Each little snail here...Know how to wail here...That's why it's hotter...Unda the water...Ya we in luck here...Down in the muck here...Unda the sea

One of the awesome parties that I'm working on has an Under The Sea theme, and I couldn't be more excited about it! P's mama and I have been back and forth by email and twitter with ideas, and it's going to be one heck of a party!

While I won't out any of her personal ideas, or the items that will be coming from Sweet Stella's. I'll post some sneak peeks later, but trust me...super fun ideas!

Here are some really great ideas if you're going to be doing the Under The Sea theme this year!

An awesome invitation goes a very long way! This one happens to be amazing and hits on all of the graphic design points that I look for in an invitation.



Think about things in sets of 3...three colours, three design elements (font, graphic, pattern)

Compositionally, things look better when paired in uneven groupings. If you have a rectangular table, consider putting three of these together in a row on your table



Fishbowls full of blue jello and with a few sweedish fish floating in their little gooey home! So awesome, and incredibly easy!

Happy party planning!

SWH4T$: Candy Cane Play-dough

Welcome back to Week 9 of She Works Hard 4 The $ (SWH4T$)!



We are so pleased for you to join us this week, and look forward to many holiday tips and tricks!



The Rules? They're pretty simple!





1.) Follow your hostesses at Baby Shmizz and Sweet Stella's via GFC


2.) Link up a specific post that relates to money and time, your job, your business, couponing, anything that shows how you "work hard for your money".



3.) Post our button on your post


Have fun linking and finding new blogs to read!










Festive & Frugal Toddler Gift

In keeping with Shan's theme from last week, I thought I would feature a cute and cheap gift that you can make for the little kids in your life. I made Candy Cane Playdough for Jack's little friends that we got together with last weekend.



Yes, they are on the liquor cabinet...
right now its the only high placethat Jack can't reach...


I got the idea for this from my favorite addiction time-suck social media site, Pinterest. I actually combined 2 ideas, Candy Cane Playdough with Snow Playdough:







In addition to your playdough ingredients (see here), you will also need red & white glitter, 8-oz mason jars, fabric cut into 5x5 inch squares (I also used pinking shears to make the edges of the fabric pretty)





I made 1 batch of red playdough and 1 batch of white playdough using this recipe, and I added 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to each batch for candy cane scent :) At the end, I kneaded in red glitter to the red batch, and white iridescent glitter to the white batch. 2 batches of dough fills about 5 8-oz mason jars.





Assembly:


-divide your batches into small 15 small balls each.


-start with a red ball and slightly flatten it in the bottom of the jar so it touches all sides of the jar.


-add a white ball on top, squishing down in the same manner.


-repeat until you have 3 layers of red & 3 layers of white (this amount worked for me, you could make more or less layers depending on what you want).


-place the metal lid on the top of the jar, cover with a 5x5 inch square of fabric and screw down the collar over the fabric & lid.





The cost of this whole gift is minimal, because most of the stuff you have on hand already (flour, salt, vegetable oil, cream of tartar). We happened to have mason jars already because we do a lot of canning in the fall, but if you need to purchase them, here is an idea of prices:





12-pack case of 8 oz Mason Jars: $17.95 on Amazon, which is $1.50/jar


1/2 yard of fabric, price varies, but I paid $3.99 at Jo-Ann Fabrics


Glitter: $1.99 each





So I didn't do out the math of how much it would be per jar all said and done, but I'm guessing its less than $5. Which is awesome for many reasons, but mostly because its homemade, its cheap and its just plain fun!





What sort of homemade gifts have you made this holiday season?




Talk-To-Me Tuesday: Carrot Pancakes

Lately, I've been wracking my brain about how to get more veggies into my son. He simply just will not eat them...unless they're sweet potato fries.

So...being creative, I wondered if he'd mind carrots grated into his pancakes. Boy oh boy! Did we have a winner here!!


  • 1
    cup all-purpose flour
  • 1
    tablespoon sugar
  • 2
    teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4
    teaspoon salt
  • 1
    beaten egg
  • 1
    cup milk
  • 2
    tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 large carrots, grated (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
Preheat skillet, griddle, frying pan...whatever your cooking method.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat egg with milk and cooking oil, then stir into dry ingredients until combined and not lumpy. Make sure to not overmix.

Mix in carrots.

Cook on your griddle, turning when bubbles pop and don't fill back in.

Serve! I served mine plain, no syrup required!

Yield is about 8-10 pancakes, and they freeze really well in a Ziploc bag! To reheat, simply pop in the toaster!

Talk-To-Me Tuesday: Favourite Products

I've been asked time and again...what is your favourite product to create?

Hands down, board books.



The first one that I created was for my son, Owen, so that he would have pictures of all of the special people in our family and would know what they did with him when he was just a baby.

I love to write, and have written some short stories, tonnes of poems, and even a few children's stories in the past, so writing the board books about someone's silly special family is amazing. it's such an honour to work with a family on their story too!

I get a crazy list of family members, their special names and what they do with the child. From there, I create a one-of-a-kind story while the Mama choose papers, stamps and inks, a theme for the backgrounds and cover.


After that, I get crafty and create a board book like no other...unique and special, just for them! Some I have handwritten and others I have done some graphic design for. It brings me so much happiness to know that I've created something truly wonderful and unique for a family!

Finally, I put clear photo corners on the pages so that the family can fill the book with pictures of their child (or children!) with their special family members.



I think I may need to expand the selection of board books as well...shapes, letters, animals...maybe even those stories that I wrote a number of years ago about a lazy otter named Ollie who loved to daydream...

Fabulous Finds Friday: Heirloom Quilts

While I am by now means a quilter, I have a great respect for the art and those who spend a crazy amount of time cutting the fabric and sewing everything together.

I was looking for some ideas and inspiration for Owen's second birthday (not until June 2012 mind you...but one can never be too early for party planning!) and came across these gorgeous quilts.



And being sentimental at heart, I am definitely saving some of his baby clothes to have a quilt made for him. Well...maybe for me to snuggle up on the couch with once he's grown.

Either way, completely fabulous.

You can check out the Etsy shop, warmnfuzzies, here.

Mompreneur Monday: Little Free Radical

Happy Monday indeed today, as you get to meet a craft mama. The mastermind behind Little Free Radical, a children's toy and room decor shop on Etsy!

I first met Crystal when we were pregnant with our children, on a pregnancy forum and I think our craftiness (and honest attitude) brought us together. Now, we're members in The Artisan Group and talk often of creativity and inspiration!

What do you do?

I make cloth toys & room decor for kids!

How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

I rarely have time to sit and make things in one sitting - typically, I sew for a few minutes here and there as I have time. I try to get the machine sewing all done during the day, so that I can get the stuffing & hand-stitching done at night once Sophie is in bed since my workspace is in her room. I also take a lot of small projects on the road when I know I'll be in the car for an hour or more! :)



What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

Limited Space!!! We live in an apartment so my workspace is the corner of my daughters room. (I actually took the door off her room to be able to make use of the space the door was supposed to open into as a sewing area!)
I have to always keep the area "baby-proof" - make sure pins, scissors aren't in her reach... it's a lot harder to get stuff done when I constantly have to put everything away. Some day we'll own a house and I'll have a room of my own! :)



What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

Take baby steps! start with a little at a time - see what works & what doesn't, and grow your business over time!

Is there anything additional you'd like to share?


I currently have a giveaway on Mommies Who Love Freebies for a set of 3 cloth balls!



MOMpreneur Monday: Sock Monkey Emporium

Happy Monday and Happy Halloween!! Today I'd like to introduce you to a Mompreneur from across the pond, Miss Emma of Sock Monkey Emporium!

Her whimsical creations are certainly one of a kind, and perfect for the kiddos...or the kiddos at heart!




Name: Emma Maudsley
Shop Name: Sock Monkey Emporium
Niche/Tagline: Creating cuddly friends from socks



What do you do?

I handmake animals from a simple pair of socks

How do you maximize your time as a busy mom running a business?

By working every spare minute I have!! I have 1 daughter in school and another in nursery 3 days a week so I sew while the house is empty, then again once they are in bed.



What do you see as your greatest challenge being a MOMpreneur?

Balancing my time; I try not to sew as much at weekends but that's when my craft fairs tend to be and during the run up to Christmas I need to sew everyday.

What advice do you have for other moms looking to start a business?

Do something you enjoy as well as something you are good at. There is nothing worse than starting something and then realising you are hating every minute of it. And spread the word! Talk to mums in the school playground; I have stalls at my daughter's school Christmas and Summer Fairs and get orders throughout the year as a result.



Is there anything additional that you'd like to share?

Orders now being taken for 2012 onwards :)

MOMPreneur Monday: Julie Cole of Mabel's Labels


Last night, I was on twitter and sent out a "Help!! I need a MOMpreneur to blog about tomorrow!" Boy...I did not expect to get connected with one of the most amazing MOMpreneur`s out there, Julie Cole, VP and Co-founder of Mabel's Labels.



If you have children, and they watch Disney Junior, you are very familiar with Mabel's Labels already. I was so excited to blog about Julie last night, that I said to my husband "You know...Mabel's Labels...ba-na-na-na-na-na-na hey! We go bananas for birthdays!" and he knew exactly what I was talking about (bless his heart).



Here's a little about Julie and how the ever awesome Mabel's Labels started...



Eight years ago, I started Mabel’s Labels Inc. with 3 friends – and what an adventure it has been! We often refer to Mabel’s Labels as our “other” baby, and it has been amazing to nurture her and help her grow. We find inspiration in so many ways – through our Mabelhood community, our beautiful children and our entrepreneurial spirits.



photo credit: www.jvlphoto.com


Bio:


Julie is the mother of six and a co-founding VP of Mabel’s Labels, the leading provider of labels for the stuff kids lose!®. After her eldest son was diagnosed with autism, Julie shelved a legal career to monitor his therapy and launch a business that would strike a better work/life balance. Mabel’s Labels has since grown from basement start-up into an award winning, celebrity endorsed, international phenomenon.



It has been featured everywhere from The View to Forbes.com and is widely recognized for its business and product excellence, winning –amongst others- a coveted RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award. As company spokeswoman, Julie is a well-known personality amongst mom entrepreneurs and her charismatic and dynamic personality has led to numerous speaking engagements, from morning TV, including The Marilyn Denis show, to university business classes.




With humour and endearing candour, Julie’s writing focuses on her experiences raising a big, happy family while running a successful business, and has appeared in Chicken Soup For the Soul – Power Moms and the blogs www.mabelhood.com/JulieCole, http://www.thebabymachine.com/ and PTPA’s Blogaholics, amongst countless other outlets. Follow her on twitter @juliecole

Mama Blogger Monday: Baby Shmizz

Wow! My 200th blog post, and i can't think of a better Mama Blogger to share it with!!

You've already gotten to know this blogger from my point of view, but today, Shannon from Baby Shmizz shares with you why she blogs, what keeps her going and some exciting things that are on the horizon over at Baby Shmizz!


Hello Sweet Stella's Fans!

My name is Shannon, and I am the genius behind Baby Shmizz, a blog all about my awesome little family.

I started this blog back in May 2009 as a way to vent my frustrations about our TTC journey, and then later it morphed into a pregnancy journal. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, and my blog was my therapy. I poured my heart out onto the computer screen, and I didn't hold anything back. I'm so glad I did that, because it really helped me to heal.

After my miscarriage we were extremely fortunate to get pregnant again rather quickly, and that brought us our amazing son, Jack David. Jack is the center of my world, my everything. He swooped into our lives a month early, born at 36w2d, and was a dream baby. Now, he is a rambunctious and stubborn 14 month old :) He is happy, playful and loving, and I am so completely proud of him.



My husband Mike and I also have a dog, Tessie, she is our crazy energetic rescue dog. We all live in a tiny overpriced house outside of Boston. Mizzle and I like to go out to gourmet dinners (he is a Pastry Chef. Be jealous, its OK) and take Jack to new exciting places.

At Baby Shmizz, I like to write about the our lives: what we like, what we hate, what drives us crazy. I still use the blog to document Jack's life and milestones and such, so my blog does feature a lot of pictures. Every week I do a Wordless Wednesday post which usually features a picture of Jack and his ridiculous cuteness. I also do frequent Our Favorite Things posts, which highlights some products that we absolutely can't live without.

I also do several giveaways, featuring books, handmade items, pretty much anything baby and family related. If you happen to be a fabulous crafter like my girl Shan, check out my blog and let me know if you'd like to do a giveaway!